Monday, June 23, 2014

A Stairway in Paris - Romance a la WEP


Anything can happen in Paris. Approach it with love, adapt to its rhythms. . .as Madeleine must do when she meets a man in an unlikely place in her new apartment building on the rue de Rivoli.




JUNE 24-26 WEP - Romance is the Challenge


A Stairway in Paris

As she pushed the eight foot doors inward in a building that would now be home, Madeleine saw the small lobby, one side faced with a huge mirror and the other painted in two neutral tones. Opening the door wider, she pulled in the two valises, pushed the door back into place and locked it. 

Before her she saw a circular stairway of low-rise stairs, but no elevator. There was nothing else to be done, but to pull them up by herself. My arms will be sore for a week, how could I not check that?

Her apartment, number 303, was leased for a year. That meant four floors up from ground level she had a small piece of Paris with wrought iron windows and a small kitchen. In some older buildings, a lobby like this one would have a small elevator which would hold two people or four suitcases, but not this one.

She started up the stairs before she heard someone coming down. She had one suitcase by the handle and the other she pulled behind. I can't stop now, I'll never make it if I do. She kept going. The footsteps came closer until a dark-haired young man came around the curve of a turn in the stairway. She glanced up surprised, hoping he would stand aside and let her pass.

"Excusez-moi . . ." he said, watching the petite young woman struggle with the two valises by herself.

"Pardon, excuse-moi, Monsieur, these cases are as heavy as they look, please let me pass."

Stunned for a moment, he let her go past before he found his voice.

"Oui, but may I assist with your valise?"

"Pardon-moi?"

He repeated in part English, part French and pointed to her suitcase.

"Oh. Oui, merci."

Gaston carried the heavier valise and followed behind. Madeleine's arms and shoulders were starting to feel the strain when she finally arrived on the third level. I should have brought the suitcases one at a time, but it's my art tools, my work.

"This valise is heavy, too heavy for a mademoiselle."

"Perhaps, but what else can a 'poor' mademoiselle do but try?"

"Ah, you put me in place? I didn't mean it that way."

She grinned and offered a handshake, stopping halfway. "Non, certainly not. I'm Madeleine Lafitte. I appreciate the wit and your help with these bags. It's art equipment."



Bistrot Marguerite Napkin, by DG Hudson
 
 

He took her offered hand in his, but only held it, he didn't kiss it. "I am Gaston Chambord, pleased to meet you. I study art too, when I'm not working at the Bistro Marguerite*. It's not far from here."

He let go of her hand reluctantly. "I live down at the far end, number 309. We're neighbors."

"I was lucky to meet you on the stairs, thank you again." She walked to the door to see him out.

"You are welcome, Madeleine. Next time, maybe we can have coffee and talk. Au revoir."

"Oui, that would be nice. Au revoir!" I wonder why he didn't kiss my hand? I thought that always happened. . .

After Gaston left, she unpacked her tea kettle and made hot tea. She would have to look for a café in a few hours. But she couldn't stop thinking about this man she had met on the stairway. He had helped save her from a dislocated shoulder. A bit of a hero. What was the name of the place where he said he worked?

Later, she found the Bistro Marguerite as she took a walk at dusk for that purpose. Near the Hotel de Ville, this café glowed warmly on the street corner near the Seine River. She didn't see Gaston among the staff at the front, so she sat in the outside area where you could look about the evening streets. As she sat wondering if she'd be able to decipher the menu, one of the other waiters came to her table.


Bistrot Marguerite, Paris, by DG Hudson


It was not Gaston, but another waiter who spoke English well enough to help with her order. He suggested either Cod cooked the French way or Grilled Salmon. She ordered grilled herbed salmon with slivered green beans and eyed the outside décor while she waited. Her attention wandered to the Seine and the streets beside the bistro. Several couples walked by, enjoying the night and being in Paris. They looked in to see what people were eating, she looked out to see if they were tourists or locals. As if she could tell.

She had a small book to read while she sipped her wine and water. As the waiter brought her order, she looked up and saw a friendly smile.

"Madeleine, you found the Bistro Marguerite! My friend asked me to attend the young mademoiselle's order, so I help him out of course and then I see it is you. The food here is tres bon."

"This smells wonderful. I hoped you were working so I could thank you again for helping me with my luggage."

"Luggage? Ah, the valise. No problem. Coffee? Maybe a dessert, au gratis?"

"Merci, with cream, please."

"I'm glad you came by. I'd like to walk back with you, but I'm still working."

"Are you finished soon?"

"Oui, in twenty minutes."

"I could wait, I might get lost."

"Exactly. I'll bring the dessert."

The lights dimmed behind them as they left the restaurant, hand in hand. Walking slowly and stopping to admire this or that, they took an hour to cover a ten minute walk.

***

END of Part I, A Stairway in Paris.

***

*Link to 'Paris Posts' tab, on Bistros and Sidewalk cafés, including 'Bistro Marguerite'.

NOTE: It's not a good idea to address a waiter in France as garçonIt's considered a rude or derogatory expression. Address the waiter as monsieur. 

***

Do you take the stairs often? Have you ever had to lug your own heavy suitcases up the stairs? Are you a fan of the genre romantic story? How about a romantic tragedy?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond. PS - Writing romance is a stretch for me, so feedback is welcome. This is a side story of a work-in-progress; there will be more in a future WEP.  

Update - correction June 30th, thanks to ABFTS.

***

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Join us for a monthly signup and some very interesting reading. It's flexible. I joined the once-a-month bloghop since it meets my needs. I've also met fellow bloggers with the same penchant for responding to Denise's challenges. WEP can help you practice short writing. It's a good way to start story ideas.


Write…Edit…Publish! welcomes you to submit any of the following – flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction or playscripts to a word count of 1,000 words – artwork and photographs accompanied by your written inspiration in creating your work/s.

Next Challenge: July - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Owner/Originator: Denise Covey at her website.


For July - December 2014 Challenges:


July-December Challenges at Denise Covey's Site



Denise Covey WEP Site:
http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.ca/

***

60 comments:

  1. "D.G. Hudson - Rainforest Writing" has been included in our Sites To See #381. Be assured that we hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

    http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2014/06/sites-to-see.html

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    1. Interesting post that you featured - Emily Carr, the artist from Victoria BC. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. I enjoyed this story, liked the gentle humour in the dialogue. I'd prefer a happy ending to a tragedy, but of course tragic endings feel more real . I actually know someone who met her future husband on a staircase, though not in Paris. And I take the stairs everyday, live with them in the house, so no avoiding them :)
    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana.

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    1. We have stairs too, Nilanjana, and I grew up with stairs, I like them.

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    2. Thanks for sharing that about your friend and her husband. I love that. I posted the first comment too soon.

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  3. Your blog inspires me to want to visit Paris. I was there for a weekend back in 1991, so I can't really say I've been there. Hopefully this fall! I want to explore the vast underground city of catacombs and tunnels.

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    1. I have a scene in that location in my WIP about Paris, Sean. I was just doing research on when certain cultures were in the underground.
      Take photos when you do go, please, and share them.

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  4. The cautious person in me is glad he was a nice guy after all. And yes, I've had to lug bags up flights of stairs before.

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    1. Gaston is new in town, too, having come from the provinces, he, like Monet, is a gentle man from the coast of France. He sees Madeleine with the eyes of an artist. She is the realist with a touch of hope.

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  5. This was the perfect piece for me to read today :) Leaving for Paris tomorrow and it made me focus on the destination instead of the packing! Have a great summer!!

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    1. You will have an exciting summer! Say hello to Paris for me! Hope you and the family have a great time. Sometimes these stories are timely, so glad I could help.

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  6. June 24th, 2014
    Dear D.G.,

    I like this story. You make me feel as if I have landed in Paris. And I like the sweetness of meeting someone who has helped you. I am happy if any kind person wants to help me, as you have read in my post for failure. It does not have to lead to anything romantic.

    Your story makes me want to travel to France! What fun that would be.

    But there is something endearing about a man helping a women with something that is too heavy for her to lift. It makes men feel so masculine and make us women feel so feminine.

    Please read my post for Romance. It is not perfect. I need more words. It is my first stab at writing Science Fiction and combining it with the romance theme.

    Best wishes,
    Anna
    Anna's WEP-Challenge for June 2014

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  7. Ah, that was a sweet ending. Dessert in Paris with a handsome young man. Sigh. Makes me want to go buy a heavy suitcase and haul it over to France. :P

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    1. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship or just a platonic one. . .it all depends. Thanks for the kind words. (This is another side story.)

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  8. I like this story a lot! And yes, when I moved into my apartment in San Francisco we had to unload the UHaul and carry every bit of furniture and every box up the stairs to the apartment. I thought I was going to die at the end of the day. Same with my dorm senior year at Emerson. I was on the 5th floor and the tiny elevator, which fit maybe 3 people (had a sliding gate), only ran as far as the 4th floor. It was actually faster to drag all the luggage and stuff up to my room than take that elevator.

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    1. It only gets worse as we accumulate more stuff, JoJo. In our 4th floor rented apt. in Paris, there was a tiny 2 person elevator. Our cab driver helped us get all our luggage to the room. (via the apt rental company) Most times we walked up the four floors.

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  9. This made me feel I was there. Lovely description, written in scene. I got hungry after the scene in the restaurant. Sweet story and I wish I could read more of it.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. You might like my 'Immerse Yourself in the Moment' post, where I describe the smells, sights and sounds of Paris. It's under the' Paris Posts' tab at the top. Thanks ;for visiting!

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  10. Hello , D. G., I was here and enjoyed the story a lot. Your love for Paris shines through it.

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    1. That pleases me, Inger, and yes, I do have great memories of Paris. The more I read about the city and its people, the more I like it. Thanks for letting me know you were here. . .that means Samson is looking after you and your hubs.

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  11. i liked your story - it took me away!
    and i like the whole WEP monthly hop. i might join in once things settle down - love a good prompt!

    thanks for your sweet comments for Broken Branch Falls!

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    1. Glad I could transport you, you didn't have to use POP travel, then. Please do join our WEP challenges when you can. It's fun, I like it. It's a great testing ground for new short story ideas and side stories on WIPs.

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  12. Hi D. G.
    Oh yes, I've had to lug more than just luggage, like big boxes full of important stuff. Liked your story. I think I'm missing out since I've never been to France.
    Nancy

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    1. If you want to go and have the time, they have deals and packages that aren't too expensive. When we were there last, the prices were comparable to our own city. Thanks for stopping by for the WEP challenge.

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  13. I am like Alex: in these days, it is wise not to trust strangers with your things! I, too, have two flights of stairs to walk up and down every day -- good exercise!

    Lovely, absorbing post. Good job, Roland

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    1. Sometimes intuition lets us know who we can trust. Madeleine looks beneath the surface. She saw a bit of innocence in Gaston, which usually doesn't cohabitate with guile.
      We have stairs too. Great for exercise and the heart. Thanks for visiting, Roland.

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  14. Hi D.G.
    This post convinces me that we are very alike in our Paris experiences and our love for the city and sharing with others.
    I like your story. I can see it as part of a much larger picture. Those apartments without lifts are a Paris institution, aren't they? (I always check before I book, but my favourite hotel in Paris - which I alluded to in my story this week - is without a lift, being a 17th Century building, and added to that, the stairs are very narrow with those silly lights that don't turn on until they are activated by movement. Meanwhile, you struggle in the dark, which I think is priceless!!)

    I love having your characters meet on the staircase. I was getting a little perturbed with the 'don't trust strangers' comments, but I like when you said you trust your intuition - me too. It's never failed me yet.

    So D.G. I will go read some more of your Paris posts when I have time, well, if I wait for that I never will.

    Thanks for promoting WEP. I'd love to see several more regular participants, but we have a small, excellent core group. I wouldn't have written half the stories I have if not for these challenges. It forces me to think and to write regularly.

    I'd better get moving on the 'Picture' prompt now...

    Thanks as always for writing for WEP. You say you're not comfortable with romance, but you've got the idea - chivalry, dessert (with cream), and night walks. I like that she is somewhat of person who makes things happen.

    Denise

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    1. Those were motivating words, Denise, and yes it would be great if more bloggers joined in the WEP challenge.

      I totally agree with you about how much we admire and love Paris. We have lots of company. I always love your posts about Paris of course. BTW - I had forgotten about those lights but not the stairs. I laughed when you said that because they confused us at first. Thanks for the memory jog on that one! Take care.

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    2. Yes! I've lugged valise up six flights before! Yes, I love bistros in Paris and I have quite a few photos of spiraling staircases from France! This was so lovely, sweet and I could picture it all. The photo you used of the bistro makes me think of the one they used in the film "Amelie" which I've seen but it isn't near the Seine. Thank you for the trip. I SO miss France...

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    3. The bistro used in 'Amelie' is in Montmartre,
      Café des Deux Moulins, but this is our photo of the Bistrot Marguerite and it is across from the Seine on one side and the Hotel de Ville on the other. I miss Paris too.

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    4. Yes, I know. Just reminded me is all. So very much to see in Paris, well, in all of France to my mind! Really enjoyed getting to "go" back there in your story!

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  15. I love Paris as well. A chance meeting on the stairs is a fantastic way to start a friendship, hopefully leading to a bit of romance. Lovely story. My second home was up five flights of stairs with no lifts, shopping bags got heavier and heavier.

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    1. I've only lived three flights up at the most. I tried to think of a common experience where we don't expect to meet anyone, but sometimes Fate steps in.

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  16. Love, love the setting. The story is a little slow and could use some tension, but that's just me.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback. I'll keep that in mind when it's made into something longer.

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  17. What a wonderful story. I felt as if I were on that narrow winding staircase. Mmm, dessert.

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    1. I've received a variety of comments on this which is what I need, Mary, so I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's one of my few attempts at romance writing, I should probably stay with scifi.

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  18. I've always been a lazy old lady - even when I was young - and never take the stairs with my luggage. Unless someone else is carrying it :)

    Writing romance is not my thing either, though I experiment so I can possibly enhance the romance segments in my other writings. A book without some form of romance isn't interesting. I just don't like the romance to be the entire story.

    Call me old fashioned, but I thought it sweet that he offered to help carry her bags up the stairs. I think you do have to trust strangers sometimes. And its not like she just handed him her stuff and walked away. I agree with a healthy sense of caution, but sometimes it can be taken too far. I think people do need to trust your intuition occasionally. If you always think the worst of people, you will begin to act that way yourself.

    Being polite should never be out of fashion.

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    1. Thanks Donna for such a thoughtful comment! You understood what I was trying to convey. The young man is from the provinces and not a city guy; she has been through one failed relationship and is somewhat cautious. She's also practical-minded. Love what you said. . .

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  19. Cute! It's rare you stumble across something that's just sweet and light, but this brought a smile to my face. *sigh* I could sit around and read this kind of stuff all day. Alas, there is life to be lived, eh?

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    1. It's perhaps too sweet, I'm starting to think, but isn't young love like that? We want so hard to believe that it can happen anywhere, anytime.

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  20. You came up with a great meeting between two people - I love how they met on the stairs, and how she didn't expect him to offer help. Definitely a romantic meeting.

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    1. Thanks, Laura, glad you had a chance to drop by. Good luck with your writing!

      It's better not to expect to get help, but to take it when it's offered.

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  21. I enjoyed your story and wanted more~ I long to visit Paris-more please~

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    1. Thanks, Ella, I will be adding a part 2 at least in a future WEP. See the Paris Posts tab when you need to see photos of Paris.

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  22. Good tip about how to address a waiter in Paris! I've hauled many a heavy suitcase up stairs. It was nice of the gentleman to help. I enjoyed this story! Looking forward to part 2.

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    1. Thanks Sherry, glad you liked it. Most stories need some element of romance in them, so it's good practice. I'll have a Part 2 as soon as I fit it to a challenge theme.

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  23. Nice work, DG -- your dialogue always rings true. We don't have an elevator at our condo complex, which makes things difficult for my sister-in-law when she visits. We're on the top floor. She's in a wheelchair.

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    1. Thank you, Milo, dialogue and scenes are my fave part of writing. Narrative is harder for me.

      That must be hard, Milo, my MIL was also in a wheelchair and it poses all kinds of problems. Hope you manage okay.

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  24. Hi DG - now I do want to read what comes next and next .. I used to live up on the fifth floor the top flat - but my staircase was pretty dull compared to this one - the sweep of the marble, the wonderful handrail ..

    Still .. I can imagine times in Paris .. cheers Hilary

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    1. I like living on the upper floors, the view is so much better. Glad you enjoyed this little young romance, it's not my usual. Thanks for visiting, HIlary.

      We have our July 1st celebrations tomorrow. (at confederation Canada was called the British North American colonies)

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  25. I think this sounds great. Do keep in mind I'm not an expert in romance, but the description was great and I like the characters.

    My bit of nitpickiness: this part right here.

    He repeats in part English, part French and points to her suitcase.

    At this part, the story shifts into present tense before returning to past tense. Be careful with that when writing.

    Cheers!

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    1. Thanks, ABFTS, I missed that, and it's something I do a lot. Moving between those alternate universes causes it.

      Nitpickiness in some things is acceptable. Like offering feedback. I'm still learning.

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  26. Nice work. I especially like your last bit: an hour to cover a ten-minute walk.

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    1. It is Paris after all, and it's hard to rush Paris.

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  27. This Gaston dude sounds hot! I'd be in that! hehe.

    Nice story :)

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    1. As the story unfolds, we shall see. . .

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  28. Hey D.G, back for a second reading since it's a prize month. I'll be posting a wrap up tomorrow...D

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    1. I'll be sure to check your blog tomorrow, Denise. Good luck to all participants!.

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